Times have changed since the 1970s, when the venerable Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong invested in a fleet of Rolls-Royce Silver Clouds painted a dark moss colour known as “Peninsula Green”.
Many other top hotels
around the world followed suit, maintaining fleets of cars to ferry guests to
and from airports, train stations, business meetings and shopping excursions.
While most cars come with drivers, some hotels rent them to guests.
Hong Kong’s Peninsula freshened
its fleet in 2007, when the hotel purchased 14 Roll-Royce Phantoms — the
largest single order of Phantoms ever made. But with a growing focus on
sustainability, hotel fleets around the world are getting a different kind of green
At many Peninsula Hotels
(Chicago, Hong Kong, New York, Tokyo), all eyes are now on a new fleet of super
luxe (and super cute), petrol-sipping, custom-made Mini Coopers that complement the hotels’ traditional chauffeured fleets. The cars
include a rooftop box for luggage, a mini-fridge
(stocked with cold towels), iPod docking stations and leather seats. Perhaps it
should come as no surprise that BMW, the company that makes the Mini, is also
the owner of Rolls Royce.
Earlier this month, the Four Seasons Hotel in San
Francisco began renting out new Nissan
LEAF electric cars for $85 per day. The Nissan EVs (electric
vehicles) use no gasoline, can travel about 70 miles on a single charge, and
the hotel provides its own (free) charging station on site. The hotel concierge
said the cars are great for tooling around town, but there is not enough power
to get to wine country or to Yosemite and back.
In Switzerland, the posh La Reserve Geneve Hotel recently acquired a
fleet of five Tesla
Roadsters — known as the world’s fastest electric sports cars. The Roadsters have
a range of about 200 miles, so renters can cruise quietly (all electric means no
revving, no exhaust) through the Alps or along the shores of Lake Geneva.
Earlier this year, the
LEED Gold certified Ritz-Carlton
in Charlotte, North Carolina installed a plug-in charging station for
guests driving electric vehicles. While there are few electric cars cruising
around Charlotte, the hotel has a few all-electric sports car on display from Li-Ion Motors. This green-focused hotel also produces the honey used in its tea
service from beehives located on its roof.
While the introduction of
electric cars is still in its infancy, it’s good to see some hotels making such
cutting edge efforts to be sustainable. What about you? Would you take an
electric car out for a spin? Please leave your comments on our Facebook
Chris McGinnis is
the business travel columnist for BBC Travel